Oak Park and River Forest High School will hire 16-20 new faculty for the 2006-2007 school year, but improving the school’s track record on recruiting qualified minority candidates remains a goal for the school, said administrators to school board members last week.

Assistant Supt. for Human Resources Jason Edgecombe told the board at a special meeting last Wednesday that OPRF has continued its efforts to attract quality candidates.

In a discussion of the district goals for the 2006-2007 year, prepared and presented by Supt. Susan Bridge and the Building Administration Team, Edgecombe said there has been no resistance from division heads to seeking quality candidates.

Board member Jacques Conway raised the question of resistance to certain hires based on responses from two division heads in the district goals report.

Edgecombe said there was a greater concern from division heads over who has the final say on new faculty hires. Though Human Resources oversees the hiring process, Edgecombe said they tried to make the hiring effort more collaborative.

“The issue is larger than the notion of minority recruitment. The issue relates around to where is the final authority for hiring, regardless of whether the person is white, black, or blue,” said Edgecombe. “If there’s a disagreement, then we generally engage the superintendent into part of the discussion to try and bring some closure to it. We try to set this in a collaborative process, not a process that begins and ends with the division itself but that HR has a role in the process.”

Board member Barbara Fernandez asked if the recruitment process started early enough to attract interested and qualified candidates.

“From what I understood from previous conversations with faculty was that not always does the recruitment process go out early enough [so we] have the privilege of getting those minority candidates,” she said.

Edgecombe said there were no restrictions as to when the hiring process begins, and that the school has shown patience in allowing minority candidates to emerge.”

“If we rush out to hire candidates in January and February and have nothing available for March, April and May, then our likelihood of being successful in minority recruitment would be less than it is today,” he said. “I think the challenge for all of us is to be aggressive in trying to find where we can at least bring to the table a conversation about bringing in those individuals.”

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